Tom Vater

Tom Vater

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Leonard Cohen plays legendary Vann Molyvann stadium in Phnom Penh


The seers have been consulted, the dotted lines are signed, the back-line is being oiled and squeaked as I write this.

Leonard Cohen, poet, writer, singer, sometimes zen monk and full-time visionary is opening The Mekong Sessions, a concert series to be held in the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh, on November 27th 2010.

Proceeds from this concert will benefit the Cambodian Red Cross and Cambodian persons with a disability

An indoor arena at the ironically named and stunningly beautiful Olympic Stadium will serve as the concert venue. Designed by Cambodia`s master architect Vann Molyvann for the 1966 Ganefo Games, a short-lived Asian alternative to the Olympics, the stadium, long abandoned, has made an impressive comeback in recent years: as a popular afternoon meeting place for the Cambodian capital´s sports and aerobics enthusiasts. Its indoor arena has also been used to host the Volleyball for Disabled world championship.

The Olympic Stadium is the perfect venue for Mr. Cohen`s show, the ambiance just right for the poet laureate of pessimisim, as the Canadian author and songwriter has been called.
The building is stylish – architect Mollyvann was a student of Le Corbusier and the stadium is a shining example of what has become known as New Khmer Architecture.
The stadium has seen its fair share of Cambodia´s recent tragedies – including executions during the Khmer Rouge era.
The entire complex is slightly worn, under threat from ruthless developers with government connections and yet retains majesty and faded charm.

In a nut shell, Phnom Penh´s Olympic Stadium is a fitting and beautiful monument to Cambodia´s past and present. Perhaps Leonard Cohen´s show will give the stadium a new lease of life.

A recent portrait of Vann Molyvann and his work by Tom Vater and Luke Duggleby appeared in The Asia Wall Street Journal.

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